Emaar, The Economic City (Emaar.E.C), the Tadawul-listed company developing King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), has awarded a SR320 million (US$85 million) strategic agreement to Ericsson, the leading global telecom company, to implement and operate the smart city infrastructure and the multi-purpose network for Ethraa, The Smart City.
The prime facilitator of smart city within KAEC, Ethraa, The Smart City is mandated with developing KAEC as the region’s first Smart City and develop the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure of the mega-project. Ericsson joins Emaar.E.C and a range of global ICT players such as Cisco, Orange Business and HP in the initiative.
Mr Fahd Al-Rasheed, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member, Emaar.E.C awarded the agreement to Mr Bjorn Hemstad, Chairman, Ericsson’s Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMA) region, in Jeddah recently.
Ericsson will design, build and operate the entire telephony, internet and data plus video broadcasting infrastructure for all investors and residents within KAEC under the supervision of Ethraa, The Smart City, and it is expected that operations will start in January 2009 and extend to January 2012.
Mr Al-Rasheed said: “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz AlSaud honored us by unveiling Ethraa, The Smart City during his recent visit to KAEC. This initiative has been specifically planned to build the Smart City capabilities of KAEC and create a robust, efficiency-driven platform of growth for our investors. Ericsson has globally proven competencies and cutting-edge technological expertise to help attain the goals of Ethraa, The Smart City. Our partnership thus brings in best-in-class ICT capabilities to KAEC and the Kingdom.”
Mr Hemstad said: “Saudi Arabia is one of the key markets in our expansion across the CEMA region. The partnership with King Abdullah Economic City, a pioneering developmental project, will help us to showcase our capabilities in smart city design, management and operation. With the agreement, Ericsson will bring to residents and tenants of KAEC the world’s breakthrough innovations in ICT.”
Ethraa, The Smart City will focus on developing the ICT network of KAEC. “Ethraa is derived from an Arabic word to mean enrichment, and the goal of Ethraa, The Smart City is to enrich the lives of residents in KAEC through innovative telecom, communication facilities and integrated new generation IT applications,” said Eng. Omar Al-Khudairi, Senior Director, Ethraa, The Smart City. “The agreement award with Ericsson is also a benchmark in cost and technological perspectives as it will enable all KAEC residents and tenants to enjoy advanced IT and telecom connectivity at a globally competitive price from day one.”
Mr Yahya S. Hamidaddin, Smart Cities Development Director - ICT Sector & Smart Cities Office, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, added: “This initiative is a cornerstone in developing a state-of-the-art infrastructure to attain our goal of developing KAEC as a true smart city. The network will support the latest emerging technologies of convergence and ensure access to innovative services for the public and various industries and enterprises within KAEC.”
Mr Al-Rasheed added: “In today’s competitive economic environment, it is important to give the extra value to customers. The smart city capabilities of KAEC will be a draw for international investors who are assured of real-time and efficient support systems. By integrating various components such as utilities, security, healthcare, industrial zone services and other aspects of living under the Smart City network, the quality of living of residents will be enhanced.” In addition Mr Al-Rasheed added that Saudi nationals will work to develop the key components of the project.
Ericsson will undertake an extensive recon and survey of KAEC and custom-develop the smart city infrastructure through a dedicated R&D team. The ICT foundation to be developed by Ericsson will ensure that investors and residents in KAEC will have access to the highest broadband connectivity possible, telephony and multimedia including seamless video connectivity.
Ericsson is a world-leading provider of telecommunications equipment and related services to mobile and fixed network operators globally. Over 1,000 networks in more than 175 countries utilize Ericsson’s network equipment and 40 percent of all mobile calls are made through its systems. Reflecting on the company’s ongoing commitment to technological leadership, it has one of the industry's most comprehensive intellectual property portfolio containing over 23,000 patents.
King Abdullah Economic City, spread over 168 million sq m on the Red Sea coast, is the largest private sector development in the region, and has six key components – the Sea Port, Industrial Zone, Central Business District, Educational Zone, Resort District and Residential Communities.
Emaar.E.C has unveiled the first phase of the mega-project including the Sea Port, Industrial Zone and Residential Communities to overwhelming investor response. International and regional investments worth over SR130 billion has been announced in the mega-project, which is being developed as per schedule.